U.S. plans to boost Pacific engagement

U.S. plans to boost Pacific engagement

U.S. President Joe Biden's administration plans to step up diplomatic engagement with Pacific Island countries, Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said on Monday, including inviting Pacific leaders to the White House later this year.

Campbell's message, which was outlined in a U.S. business summit, comes amid rising concerns over China's expanding presence in the region, underlined by a pact Beijing signed with the Solomon Islands last month.

Campbell told attendees at the summit in Auckland that the United States intended to ramp up diplomatic relations with Pacific countries that had not seen ambassadors or engagement for decades, along with hosting island leaders.

Campbell said that for the United States to be effective in the Pacific, we must do more, and we must do more on areas that matter and are of significance to the Pacific Islanders.

He said the Biden administration would work with the U.S. AID and the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation to fund projects in the region, as well as restore the Peace Corps. Much of the area is in the area.

Campbell said the United States would increase support for multilateral engagement through the Pacific Islands Forum.

Micronesian countries initiated the process to quit because of a disagreement over leadership. The latter's viability has been under threat in the past year. A final decision on whether or not they will leave has been delayed this year.

Campbell said the United States was more optimistic about the future of the forum and would put staff in place to support the forum going forward.

He said that the United States aimed to work more intensively on regional cooperation with New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Britain, France and others along with more engagement with Pacific countries.

Campbell said New Zealand had been more ambivalent in some areas of security in the past, but he didn't believe that would be the case going forward.

He said that there is an understanding that the challenges that are presenting themselves on the global stage are not so distant - they're closer and they have direct implications.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who spoke at the conference earlier in the day, said the level of assertiveness and aggression in the region was growing, without citing the source of tensions.

She said that we don't consider that we have an exposed flank when it comes to security arrangements for New Zealand. We have strong relationships and we've seen a growing engagement in our region.